Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira

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Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira (May 3, 1910 – February 28, 1989) was a Brazilian lexicographer, philologist, translator, and writer, best known for editing the Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa , a major dictionary of the Portuguese language.

Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics. Philology is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation may be referred to as "Lusophone" in both English and Portuguese.


His family name was originally spelled Hollanda, but was changed to Holanda, presumably to follow the Portuguese spelling reform of 1943.


Aurélio was born in Passo de Camaragibe, Alagoas state, Brazil. In 1923 he moved to the state capital Maceió, where, at only 14 years of age, he gave private lessons of Portuguese language. One year later he became a first-grade teacher at the local high school Ginásio Primeiro de Março.

Passo de Camaragibe is a municipality located in the northern coast of the Brazilian state of Alagoas. Its population is 13,544 (2005) and its area is 187 km².

Maceió Municipality in Alagoas, Brazil

Maceió is the capital and the largest city of the coastal state of Alagoas, Brazil. The name "Maceió" is an Indigenous term for a spring. Most maceiós flow to the sea, but some get trapped and form lakes.

In 1936 obtained a law degree at the Recife Law School in Pernambuco, and in that same year he started teaching French and Portuguese grammar, as well as Brazilian and Portuguese literature, at the Alagoas State High School in Maceió. In 1937–1938 he also served as director of the Maceió City Public Library.

The College of Law of Recife, now called College of Law, Federal University of Pernambuco, is a law school in the city of Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil.

Portuguese literature

Portuguese literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the Portuguese language, particularly by citizens of Portugal; it may also refer to literature written by people living in Portugal, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries. An early example of Portuguese literature is the tradition of a medieval Galician-Portuguese poetry, originally developed in Galicia and northern Portugal. The literature of Portugal is distinguished by a wealth and variety of lyric poetry, which has characterized it from the beginning of its language, after the Roman occupation; by its wealth of historical writing documenting Portugal’s rulers, conquests, and expansion; by the then considered Golden Age of the Renaissance period of which it forms part the moral and allegorical Renaissance drama of Gil Vicente, Bernardim Ribeiro, Sá de Miranda and especially the great 16th-century national epic of Luís de Camões, author of national and epic poem Os Lusíadas.

In 1938 he moved to the city of Rio de Janeiro, where he taught Brazilian and Portuguese Literature at elite secondary schools including the public Pedro II High School and the private Anglo-American High School.

It was in Rio that he has started his career as a writer, by publishing articles, tales and chronicles in the local press. Between 1939 and 1943, he was acting secretary of the magazine Revista do Brasil .

Aurélio started his career as a lexicographer in 1941, as a collaborator of the Pequeno Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa . In 1942 he published a book of short stories, Dois Mundos ("Two Worlds"), which earned him a prize by the prestigious Brazilian Literary Academy. In 1943 he collaborated with the Dicionário Enciclopédico sponsored by the Brazilian Book Institute. In 1945 he took part in the First Brazilian Writers Conference in São Paulo. Between 1944 and 1949 he was a member of the Brazilian Writers Association (Rio de Janeiro branch).

In 1945 he married Marina Baird, with whom he would have two children – Aurélio and Maria Luísa – and five grandchildren.

Between 1947 and 1960, Aurélio authored various texts for the Conto da Semana ("Weekly Tale") section of the newspaper Diário de Notícias . Starting in 1950 he also authored the column Enriqueça o Seu Vocabulário ("Enrich Your Vocabulary") for the Brazilian edition of Reader's Digest; these columns were later published as a book.

Between 1954 and 1955 he lectured Brazilian studies at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on a grant by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

He was elected a member of the Brazilian Literary Academy on May 4, 1961, and inaugurated on December 18, 1961, taking over seat number 30, formerly of Antônio Austregésilo.

Inspired by his love of the Portuguese language, he decided to produce his own dictionary. After several years of work, in 1975 he published the Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa which would be for many decades the reference lexicon in Brazil – to the point that Aurélio and Aurelião ("big Aurélio") became popular synonyms of dictionary. (It is said that his collaborators once proposed to add that entry to the dictionary, but Aurélio vetoed it.) This book went through dozens of reprints and revisions, and spawned several derivative editions.

Aurélio was also member of the Brazilian Academy of Philology, of the Pen Clube do Brasil (the Brazilian section of the International Writers Association), the Brazilian Folklore Commission, the Alagoas Literary Academy, the Alagoas Historical and Geographical Institute, and the Hispanic Society of America.


Articles and essays

Translations and critical editions

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